HOUSTON The Houston Police Department Major Offenders Division is urging residents to be aware of a scam gaining popularity in the Houston area, dubbed the wobbly wheel scam.

Police said in the scam, conmen erroneously advise victims that one of their vehicle s wheels is loose or damaged and then force the victim to pay for a repair.

The scam begins when the suspects approach the victim in a parking lot or attempt to motion the resident over while driving, police said.

The suspects then represent themselves as AAA employees or mechanics and offer to address the issue for the victim, police said. One suspect then pretends to fix the victim s tire while other suspects distract the victim.

Police said the suspect does not receive approval from the victim prior to working on the vehicle and the services are not discussed until after the repair.

When the victim protests payment, the suspects pressure the victim into payment by using a large number of suspects as a show of force, police said.

Police said victims often report items missing from their vehicle after the suspects leave the scene.

HPD cautions anyone who is told there might be an issue with a vehicle to take it to a licensed mechanic to be examined or to contact AAA or roadside service directly.

Residents are also cautioned not to pull over when motioned to by an unknown driver.

Anyone victimized in this scam is urged to report it to the HPD Major Offenders Division at 713-308-3100.

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